A sustained, four-year campaign by students at St Andrew University has led to the University Court adopting the Ethical Investment Policy drawn up jointly by the activists and university Finance Director. The policy means that social and environmental issues will be considered alongside financial ones, meaning that investment in companies such as BAE Systems will no longer be considered viable. A special committee is being set up to oversee the policy’s implementation, which will include various stakeholder groups including students and staff.
The campaign was set up in 2003 and found immediate support at the Student Union, where 91% of members voted in favour of changing the investment policy. Within a year, considerable progress had been made towards improving transparency on the university’s shareholding and campaign momentum had become unstoppable by 2005, with a large march organised in the town centre and a working group set up with the Director of Finance.
By 2007, the University Court could no longer ignore the calls of the student movement and the Ethical Investment Policy drafted by the campaigners was adopted. This was a blow to the arms companies in which St Andrew held shares, a great victory for student activism and represented a huge step towards more democratic accountability in higher education.